Friday, December 31, 2010

Sneak Preview!!

I have been given the privelege by Michelle from Zookies to review and give away a handmade diaper cover!  I'm not reviewing it today...but be on the lookout!  The review and giveaway will come in about 2 weeks, around mid-January!  :)

I received my preview cover in the mail today and can't wait to show you!  So here it is:

You can visit Zookies here or here to see what all they have to offer!

Be watching mid-January!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

EXCLUSIVE discount!

ATTENTION BABYWEARING AND CLOTH DIAPERING FRIENDS (or people who know people who are babywearing cloth diaperers):

I've been given the opportunity by Jo from SnuggyBaby to offer my readers an exclusive coupon code! From now through February 15th, ALL of my readers can get 10% off ANYTHING on SnuggyBaby, including sale items! Just use the discount code thisNthat at checkout!

This coupon code has unlimited uses, so be sure to shop early and often! Share my blog with your friends and they can use the code as well!

I personally have my eye on her wet bags!

Leave me a comment if you make a purchase!

10-Towel Mess

If necessity is the mother of invention, a month of being trapped indoors with a houseful of small children is the mother of imagination...or insanity.  One of the two.

It's been snowy and cold and yuck here for over a month now.  Thing 1 has been on Christmas break for a week.  Things are thawing outside and it's really icky out there.  We're bored and it's starting to show!  So, yesterday we took a field trip, because we just needed to GET OUT!!  (I'll post about that later.)  Today I scheduled a beach party!

It's been in the works for a while now.  See, we went to the sprinkler park a couple times over the summer and the kids started asking a few weeks ago if we could go back.  They, apparently, didn't realize that you don't typically go to the sprinkler park in snow boots.  I may be crazy, but I'm not quite crazy enough to bring sprinklers indoors.  Thus was born the idea to bring a swimming pool inside!

My husband thinks I'm nuts.  He didn't seem thrilled with the idea then and probably still isn't now.  I just promised that whatever mess they (we) made, it would be cleaned up before he gets home from work. 

So, this morning I filled the (borrowed) baby pool with 15 gallons of warm water and threw in some toys!  I scrounged to find swimsuits (or swimsuitish shorts) for all the boys.  Then I told them to have fun!  We turned Vacation Bible School music on loud and "swam" away!  I wish I had Beach Boys on my iPod.  I might, I suppose, but I didn't want to take the time to search.

Did I mention that there were SIX kids in the baby pool at one point?

I figured the pool would buy me 15 or 20 minutes of sanity.  I was wrong.  Those kids...all but the younger baby...stayed in that pool for nearly an HOUR!  It was a good thing I filled it with warm water rather than the colder than cold hose water they get in the summer!

The big kids dumped and poured and splashed and squirted to their hearts' content. 

The babies mostly just found things to chew.  Stinky is teething...thus the octopus he nearly gnawed in half!

One by one they got cold and climbed out.  (Not before making a 10-towel mess all over the kitchen!)  At last, all that were left were these two brothers.  See that bucket?  It's about to be dumped over the baby's head, leading to a major crying fit.

And then there was one.  I took Stinky into the other room to get him dressed.  I heard Bugs getting out of the pool, so went back in to check on him. 

You know how you can start to see their personailities coming out even when they're tiny?  I've always said Bugsy is going to be our "Frat boy."  He's the "do anything for a laugh" type.  That theory became a little more pronounced today when I walked back into the kitchen and saw this:

Yep.  As soon as the Bug was alone in the pool, he stripped down to his birthday suit for a bit of skinny-dipping fun!  Silly boy.  Gotta love him!

And what would a December beach party be without beach food?  (Thanks for the idea, Aunt J!)

String cheese octopi (we didn't have any hotdogs), turkey-fish, sand dollars (left over from a lunch earlier in the week) and seaweed!  And for a little added fun, ocean water to drink!

And then they went to sleep.  As I type, all but Thing 1 are still sleeping, 2 FULL hours into naptime.  They were all out in less than 10 minutes.  All 6 of them.  Glorious!

I think we may be taking more "vacations" in our home!  What a fun morning!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

She was amazing.

My Grandma passed away in June of 2007.  Since that time, Santa has put Queen Anne Cordial Cherries in my stocking every Christmas morning because he knows they remind me of Grandma.

(Okay, so Michael does it...but he does it because he knows they remind me of her.)

Yesterday as I sat eating one of those cherries (okay, two of those cherries) I got sentimental.  You probably think I'm crazy, but I pulled out one of the hats Grandma knit and wore it for a few minutes while I ate my cherries.

You see, my Grandma used to knit.  She was amazing.  She was always knitting something, often while Grandpa was watching "the game."  You could go into her livingroom at anytime and you would likely find her knitting a hat for Ben or Joe or Ande.  She might be knitting a baby blanket for Aunt Maribeth's baby or Betsy's baby or a baby from church.  She made gorgeous afghans for my sister and me.  She loved to knit.  God gifted those hands.

She didn't just knit, though.  While she was knitting, she was praying.  You could bet that whoever she was knitting a particular piece for what on her lips and in her heart the entire time.  What an amazing women of faith, love, and prayer she was!

When Grandma passed away I was 7 months pregnant with Bugsy.  True to form, Grandma had just begun knitting his baby blanket.  In fact, when Grandma had a stroke shortly before her death, she had his afghan in her hands. 

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Grandma's mind was on my unborn baby.  She was praying for my little guy.  She didn't know--couldn't have known--how much he'd need it.  But I believe wholeheartedly that God heard each of my Grandma's humble prayers.  It's one of the beliefs that's made the difficult times with our little bug more bearable.  I know that he was prayed up before he was ever born, by Grandma and others.

Oh, to have half the faith my Grandma had.  I miss her.  I love her.  And I'll see her again.  Thanks, Grandma, for always holding us in your heart and in your prayers!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My husband is more daring than I am.

We went sledding on Christmas day!

And Mammaw went with us!

I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that had it been my decision, we would not have gone.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE taking the kids to do things like this.  It was even my idea!  But there were certain...obstacles...that would have kept us away.  Thank goodness my husband is more daring than I am!

We went to his childhood sledding hill.  He'd made it sound HUGE!  It wasn't as big and scary as I thought it would be, but then I didn't actually go down the hill.  (Shhhh...don't tell my family, but I am not a big fan of sledding!  Never have been!)  

Thing 1 had a blast!  She's an absolute daredevil.  She's not afraid of anything.  As soon as we got to the hill she jumped on a sled and took off!

Poor Bugsy must have gotten mommy's "scaredy cat" genes. 

He DID go down the hill twice...once alone and once with daddy...but the second time with daddy took some coaxing.

Thing 1 went down the hill to help him pull his sled back up the time he went alone.  She's such a good big sister (when she wants to be)!

I'm pretty sure Stinky is going to be a bit more like his big sister.  In fact, he climbed onto a sled and tried to scootch himself around!

Mommy vetoed him actually going down the hill, though.  He didn't seem to mind much...this time...but I imagine he'll be joining the crazies next year!

Mammaw and Thing 1 had so much fun going down the hill!  Daddy had Bugs on the big sled, so Mammaw and Thing 1 squeezed onto the saucer together!  Thing 1's a nut.  She sticks her legs out the sides and nearly breaks them off.  I'm a little surprised she didn't break one, to be honest!

And this one's my favorite.  Michael's mommy pushing him down the hill.  :)  I bet she loved every minute of it! 

So, as you can see, we had a GREAT time! 

I learned that I need to be more bold.  I need to move outside of my comfort zone more.  There are so many wonders out there just waiting for me, if I will just let go of my fears and have a little faith!  God has provided a big, amazing world!  Take hold!  Enjoy it!

Monday, December 27, 2010

God Gave Us So Much - Review

God Gave Us So Much is a cute three book treasury written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant.  Little Cub is the star of each book, asking many questions of an adult family member.

In God Gave Us the World, Little Cub has a conversation with her Mama about bears from different habitats.  This was a very cute story and included several tidbits about different types of bears.  My little guy (age 3) and his two friends (ages 2 and 5) were fascinated by this story.  They asked a lot of questions along with Little Cub.  The boys had a lot to say when it was finished and really seemed to understand the story.  I had to explain to them that God makes all different types of people and that those people sometimes live in different places, but they are young, so it didn't surprise me too much.

God Gave Us Love is  Again, Little Cub asks a lot of questions, this time to her Grampa.  Grampa does a rather vague job of describing different types of love.  The three boys I read this to got bored in the middle of this story and we had to put the book away for a while.  They liked the very beginning part where Little Cub is fishing with her Grampa and they encounter a couple otters, but after that they were lost.

God Gave Us Heaven is a really nice story about what Heaven is like.  Little Cub's Papa doesn't always know exactly what to say in response to her questions, and I like that!  I don't always know the answers either, and it was refreshing to read that in this book.  The boys were once again excited when we read this book!  They had so many questions, and the book prompted a huge discussion about Heaven.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this treasury, as did the boys!  The stories are really cute and mostly well thought out.  We weren't as thrilled with God Gave Us Love, but it still had a lot of good points and we have read it several times since.  This is a great, fun collection to get kids thinking and asking questions!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Balancing Act

I LOVE Christmas. I do! I love the lights and sights sand sounds and smells that only Chirstmas brings. I love the packages and bows. I love the last minute craziness of trying to pull it all together, whether for a Christmas gathering or Christmas morning. I love Christmas!

When Thing 1 was a baby we had a serious dilemma concerning Christmas. It was kind of a "do we or don't we" issue. Not do we or don't we celebrate. That was never a question. It was maybe more of a "how do we."

You see, we believe Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We took a look around and were appalled by the commercialism and LACK of Christianity at Christmas! (You notice these things more when you're a parent, I guess.) We didn't want Jesus to be "lost" to our own children at Christmas time, and so we decided right then and there that Jesus would be the focus at our house and Santa could pass us by.

And then Thing 1 turned 1 and started in daycare. She attended a Christian daycare and they taught about Jesus, but *gasp* there were Santa projects and Santa story books and Santa even came to visit!

And then she was 2 and the kids were TALKING about Santa visiting!

We did some quick thinking and re-evaluating. Santa visit both of our homes when we were children and neither of us were totally sold on ditching him entirely. Could we strike a balance where our kids would know that we really celebrate Jesus, but they get to share in the wonder of Santa as well? Was that even a possibility? We wanted to try!

So here's the deal...Santa comes to our house. We don't "push" him, though. We don't use the threat "Santa won't come if..." (Let's face it, he's coming anyway.) They talked to Santa this year when we saw him at Fazoli's and I was sad I didn't have my camera along, but they didn't sit on his lap and I didn't make them. We've never gone out of our way to go see Santa. We bake him cookies each year and leave him a can or two of Coca Cola. We get excited. But we don't talk much about Santa until the big day.

Jesus, on the other hand, is talked up big time. We read Jesus books. We play with nativity scenes. We typically go to a local live nativity, but this year it was WAY too cold to take the baby out! We remind the kids each day that we celebrate because of Jesus! And on Christmas morning, we eat CAKE! Yep, we bake a birthday cake for Jesus and eat it for BREAKFAST! We even sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We read a kid friendly Christmas story (when they get a little bigger we'll read Luke 2). And then we open presents.

Is it a perfect system? Probably not. Will it change year to your as the kids grow? It already does! Are my kids learning about Jesus? Absolutely. But they're experiencing the "magic" along with it. It works for us!

Merry Christmas, all! Happy birthday, Jesus!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What would you do with them?

I just decided what I want to be when I grow up. 
I want to be a three-year-old! 

Think about it for a minute.  They have  They get a nap every day!  No one looks at them funny when they want to eat PB&J every day for lunch.  They can wear their clothes inside out or backwards or even upside down if they want, and it's okay because they're three!  They ask a ton of questions a day...sometimes two tons.  They say what they mean and they mean what they say!  There are so, so many reasons I want to be three when I grow up!

I think one the best things about being three is you can do anything with...anything!  I mean, take this:

and these:

What would you do with them?  Im 30.  I was going to throw them in the trash.  I had NO idea that those were actually WADDLE SHOES!  Who'd have guessed??

Did you know Waddle Shoes help you float in the river?

And then when they get soggy, it's nice to take them off, sit on the riverbank, and dip your toes in the water!

You DO have to watch out, though, because there may be debris floating on the river...

and then you'll have to jump back onto the bank and avoid the mess!

Oh, and there's also a "speeder" accessory available, in case you don't float fast enough with the original Waddle Shoes:

There's one HUGE design flaw, though.

You see, they're too small for grown-ups.  Or rather, grown-ups are too big.  And it's unfortunate.

Because, you see, without his help, I couldn't see past those packing products being trash.  I've, sadly, grown up a bit in the last 27 years, and my imagination is seriously lacking.  What happens to us grown-ups?  When does everything become so cut-and-dry, so serious, so "this is this and that is that?"

This morning, I went swimming in the river in my kitchen.  I didn't have Waddle Shoes because they wouldn't fit, so I had to get in and out quickly or I would sink.  It's been a long time since I've had such a refreshing dip in the water! 

Yep.  I'm going to be a three-year-old.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Give It Away Today

I'm a closet giveaway-aholic.  I LOVE giveaways!!  I like the thrill of entering them, whether I actually win anything or not.  (It IS nice to win, though!)

A few weeks ago I came across a facebook page called "Give It Away Today."  The premise is pretty enter your email on their sign-up page one time and you are entered in ALL their future giveaways!  They decide somewhat arbitrarily when and what they will give away.

The prize for 5000 "likes" on facebook was pretty far away when I signed up.  I think there were about 1500 or so likes.  They had announced that the prize at 5000 would be an iPad.  AN IPAD!  Who wouldn't sign up?  I did!  There was no way I would actually WIN but it's fun to try, right??

Imagine my surprise a little over a week ago when I saw MY NAME as the winner of the iPad!!  I was in shock.  And then I was skeptical.  Because, you know, I totally believe it when someone sends me an email and says I am going to get free DVDs in the mail, or whatever, but an iPad?  Uh uh. 

I did some searching, then.  I searched for the company on Swagbucks.  I looked for reviews.  I even checked the Better Business Bureau.  It looked legit, so when I got their email I sent my address.

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It was supposed to be delivered yesterday!  UPS said so!  And it wasn't.  I was so bummed and had a few minutes of doubt.  My husband's been teasing me all along about what *might* be in the box.

But today "The Package Man" came!!!  And yes, inside the package is a REAL iPad!  Woohoo!!

Thank you, Give It Away Today!  I already invited all my friends to join, but I'm going to send them a second invite!  YAY!!!

Cloth diapers

When Thing 1 was a baby,

we briefly (VERY briefly) discussed using cloth diapers.  Our moms

did it 30 years ago, so it couldn't be THAT bad, right?

So, I did some research and found that, according to the reviews I read anyway, cloth diapering isn't any cheaper overall than disposable.  Since that was our main concern, we just went with what we knew.  (Translation: We weren't grossed out by wrapping poop up, sticking it in a plastic bag, and throwing it in the outdoor trash.)

We're 3 kids in, now.

Stinky is almost 10 months old, and until about a month ago, he and Bugsy were BOTH in diapers, at least part time.  (Bugs was down to naps and when I was scared he'd have an accident.)  Two kids in disposable diapers is expensive!  We even buy the cheap kind!  But we were faithful "sposie" users.

There was only ONE brand/type of wipes we could use for Bugsy, and of course they were the most expensive.

And then there's the smell!  I HATE the overpowering urine smell in "sposies!"

So, about 2 months ago, I got frustrated enough to start doing some research.  Turns out, you can buy MUCH much cheaper cloth diapers now!  You're not going to get cloth diapers cheaper per diaper than sposies, but you can certainly get a couple cloth cheaper than a whole pack of sposies!  I had heard, too, that the laundry costs were super high with cloth.  That was one of the big "turn-offs" initially.  But in my research I found that most people only do a couple extra loads a week.  That's not too bad at all, especially considering they are small loads and you only use 1/2 the detergent!

So, I began looking for a "cheap" cloth diapering alternative.  There are lots of options out there that I really want to try.  So far, though, I've got these:

Four econobum cloth diaper covers.  I bought "seconds" from their website, Cotton Babies, for $5 a piece and free shipping!  They're awesome because they're adjustable to fit babies from 7-38 pounds (I think) which, for may babies, seems to mean about 2 years.  I HAVE in an emergency fit Bugsy in one...he's 43 pounds!

You have to use these over a cloth diaper.  I've been using cotton prefolds, like mom used.  ;-)  I have a whole pile of hand-me-downs. 

The ones I like best are various pink patterns.  Stinky doesn't seem to care, though!  Maybe someday I will be able to convince my budget that it's worth buying something different!  Notice the washcloths...when I am feeling particularly adventurous I use those with warm water instead of wipes!  They work SO much better.  One washcloth does the job! 

I'm hoping someday to be able to get some of the "nicer" all-in-one or pocket or all-in-2 or...or...or... diapers.  Daddy won't change cloth, so we're back and forth between cloth and sposies, but I think if we had "easier" ones he'd be more likely to come on board!  I really do enjoy the difference cloth diapering is our budget AND in our little guy's bottom!  (And even stinky diapers REALLY don't smell as bad with cloth!)

Besides, what could be cuter than this?

Oh wait...yeah...this...

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's been a "maybe next year" year

As for many of the families around us, money has been tight this year.  Tight tight.  It's been a year of hand-me-down clothes (although that's nothing new), thrift store birthday presents, and a scaled back menu.  It's been a year of feeling a little too warm in the house in the summer and a little too cool in the winter.  It's been a "maybe next year" year.  We've struggled to make ends meet, but they've met.  We've struggled to do a few "extras," but we've found a way. 

I was reminded this weekend, though, of how blessed we are, even financially.  You see, we have a place to live, and the ability to pay for it!
(It doesn't QUITE look like that anymore...we're now minus the enclosed porch and carport, and the bushes are quite a bit bigger...oh, and it's all snow covered.)

And it's in a nice, "quiet" neighborbood.  (I use the term "quiet" loosely because there are 80 bajillion kids running around all spring, summer, and fall...and 30 bajillion in the winter!)  There are tons of kids for our kids to play with, and all right about their ages!

We have air conditioning when it's hot and heat when it's cold.  We have running water! 

We have more "things" than we know what to do with.

We have "affordable" access to quality healthcare.

We have friends and family, both nearby and near in spirit, that love us unconditionally.

We have three children you are in good health and who love us!

I was humbled this weekend to realize how much much I take for granted.  Because I have a warm, safe place to live.  I have friends and family.  I have have have have have.  I have too much.  I have so much that when I can't "have" I feel deprived!  I know that more than likely I'll soon forget how much I have.  I pray that I don't, though!  I hope that I'll carry through with my promise to myself to get rid of some of the "excess."  And I pray that, in the back of my mind--or maybe more toward the front of my mind--I will hold the reminder of this weekend.  I am blessed beyond measure.  I have more than I need, even when I don't think I do. 

Please, Jesus, help me remember to be content!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Make-shift Vacuum Cleaner Upholstery Brush Megaphone

My son loves the upholstery brush from the vacuum cleaner. It seems most little kids are fascinated by vacuum cleaner attachments...a lot more so than their mommies!  My son uses the upholstery brush as a megaphone.  He'll wander around the house making announcements, singing, summoning people-all the regular megaphone type stuff.  

This morning I was frustrated.  It was way past time to leave to take big sister to school.  We were running late and I HATE running late.  There truly are few things that make me angry more quickly than dawdlers when I'm in a hurry.  I asked the little man to get his socks and shoes and bring them to me so I could help him put them on, as it's much faster than waiting for him to put them on himself.  Imagine my frustration when he began wandering the house, CALLING OUT to his socks and shoes with his makeshift vacuum cleaner upholstery brush megaphone!  "Socks!  Shoes!  Come here!  Socks!  Shoes..."  And then he seemed genuinely surprised when they didn't magically appear in response to his plea.  Hurt, even. 

He did eventually bring his socks and shoes.  As I helped him put them on, I couldn't help but think we're all like that sometimes.  Think about it.  How often do we wander through life, shouting into our own makeshift megaphones, "Blessings!  Blessings, where are you?  Come here, blessings!"  We're genuinely disappointed...hurt even...when we don't find them.  And we weren't even looking! 

John 1:16 says, "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."  It's true!  Even on the days we can't think of a single things to be happy for-or maybe especially on the days we can't find anything worth smiling about-we need to seek out those blessings!  Open the dresser drawers of your life.  Check the laundry pile.  Dig under the bed if you have to!  But for goodness sake, let's remember that blessings ARE there.  God's promised them to us.  He's in the business of providing blessings, we just don't always see them.

I challenge you (and me!) today to put away the megaphone.  Get up off your bottom and search for a blessing!  It's out there.  And once you find it, if you need help to put it on, let me know.  I'm good at that sort of thing.